12 Tips for Working From Home – Signed a Fully Distributed Company

Chromatic has never had an office. You read that correctly, we’ve never had an office. We have been operating as a fully distributed team for over twelve years, and if I can humbly say, we’re pretty darn good at it.

With the recent developments in the world related to COVID-19, I’ve been hearing about a lot of folks working from home for the first time and whole companies and whole teams trying out working remotely. We published an article last year as a primer to working at home, you can see that here.

Here are a few of our tips for your team.

  1. If anyone on the team is remote, treat everyone as if they are remote. This is paramount when adding remote members to your team, especially if there is anyone on the team still co-located. For example, if part of your team is in a conference room and part of the team is on the phone, don’t draw on the whiteboard excluding participation from those on the phone.
  2. Be honest. A lot of employers are worried that by allowing their people to work at home, they won’t actually work. So keep working and be transparent with how you are using your time.
  3. As a business implement the tools needed. Spend the money upgrading your hardware and software as needed. Ensure that your team can edit their own audio and video settings on their computers. We use a lot of collaborative tools, Google for Business, Zoom, Slack, Github, and Basecamp to work collaboratively over the web.
  4. Use video whenever possible. Video is a game-changer when it comes to working remotely. When you can see the people you are working with it gives you a much better personal connection.
  5. Manage mute well. This is a big one and often debated whether you should ever mute or always mute your audio on a video call. It can force better participation to say no one mutes on a call so that no one can start doing other tasks. But if you're a loud typer or there are others in your home making noise, mute out of respect for everyone in the meeting. If there is a commotion behind you on a video call mute your video to address the distraction.
  6. Get dressed. This includes pants. Don’t just get dressed from the waist up ‘because no one will know.’ There are too many stories reminding us that someone will know.
  7. Be mindful of what is in view of your camera. See the previous two points and think about what others are seeing. Is your home a disaster? Is there a pile of dirty laundry behind you? Is the bathroom door behind and will your significant other walk out of it? Think it through and position your camera accordingly.
  8. Set the boundaries of home and office. This is both for you and for your family, roommates, etc. Make sure you know where you will be working and when you will be working. Set appropriate boundaries.
  9. Don’t work from bed. See points 6 and 7 above, but mentally it is recommended that you don’t work from bed. Sleep where you sleep and work where you work, don’t mix them.
  10. Schedule lunch or breaks as needed. It’s very easy to work through lunch and not take the same breaks when you are working at home. Make time to take care of yourself.
  11. Focus on the work or the call that you are on. It’s much easier to be distracted during a meeting when you are home. Everyone is on a call, someone is talking, and you’re scrolling through Twitter for the latest COVID-19 updates. Be respectful and focus on the task at hand.
  12. Leverage the Coffee Zoom! This is a tradition at Chromatic. We use Zoom for video conferencing, and typically on Friday’s we open up a Zoom meeting that anyone on the team can jump onto. There is no agenda or set topic, it is simply a place to connect with one another. Today we discussed COVID-19 and this blog post, as well as work, life, and weekend plans. It’s a great way to replace some of those day-to-day interactions that you’ll be missing by working from home.

We wish you the best of luck! Hit us up on Twitter at @ChromaticHQ if you have a question or suggestion.

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